*Update: Newbury has been cancelled (boo!)
Amazing to think two weeks Saturday the Cheltenham Festival will be all done and dusted – or not have happened should the Coronavirus have struck!
So we need to get the bank built up and ITV provide seven chances from Doncaster, Newbury and Kelso this weekend.
The 13.50 at Doncaster is an extended 3m handicap hurdle. GEORDIE B might not be the best-handicapped horse in the world but conditions are ideal for a big run. Trained by Venetia Williams, Geordie B has only had one outing this season but that was a fair comeback at Newbury. He should be fitter and stays well.
Next at Doncaster is the 14.25pm, a handicap chase over an extended 2m. A tough race to call. I’m tempted to have a few quid on JERRYSBACK, trained by Philip Hobbs and ridden by the excellent Tom O’Brien. My hope stays much further than this, but there is a chance this could turn into a slog and he has the ability on a going day, as when third at Cheltenham in the National Hunt Chase. Have a few quid on each-way.
The 15.00 at Doncaster is a Listed novices’ hurdle for mares over an extended 3m. No doubt the one to beat here is CILL ANNA for the champion Paul Nicholls and Andy Stewart. Harry Cobden takes the ride. She looked good at Warwick and Wincanton the last twice and with a rating of 135 should follow up.
And finally, at Doncaster the big betting race that is the 3m 2f handicap chase at 15.35. CAPTAIN CHAOS so deserves a big win and this might just be his chance. A strong stayer who jumps well, my hope is trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by the talented Bridget Andrews. Back him each-way after a fine third at Warwick last time when he made most of the running.
Meanwhile, over at Newbury there is a veterans chase over 3m 2f at 14.05. Many of these could win at their best. Old boy THEATRE GUIDE is long in the tooth but he might just have one more big effort in him for Colin Tizzard and Jonjo O’Neill Jr. His third at Sandown last time was fair and he ran well at Newbury last March too in this event when second to Carole’s Destrier.
Also shown at Newbury is the 15.15, a handicap chase over 2m 4f. Paul Nicholls wants this, and the one I will back eachway is SAN BENEDETO, who is lightly raced for the champion. Bryan Carver takes off a useful 5lb, and his fourth at Newbury over course and distance last time was not bad at all. As far as he wants to go but every chance of getting in the places.
And finally the race shown at Kelso is the 14.45, a Grade 2 novices’ hurdle over 2m 2f. Nicholls again here with CALVA D’AUGE the one to beat. He was hugely impressive at Plumpton last time and you know you will get a ride from Sam Twiston-Davies. Has a high rating.
You hear me Paddy?